Patent pool wants payment for streaming video

23 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

HEVC is overcoming a lot of barriers, but there’s still a long way to go for the new 4K compression standard.

A group of companies — expected to be among them are GE, Technicolor, Dolby, Philips, and Mitsubishi Electric — that hold patents for next generation video compression technology want to change the compensation model for such patents.

High efficiency video coding or H.265 or finally, HEVC as it’s most commonly called is the next generation standard for compression of video transmissions that was developed with 4K resolution squarely in mind. This is typically very dry and boring technical legalize, but the royalty schedule that the HEVC Advance group announced Wednesday for its H.265 compression standard had a twist. However, despite some serious inroads into the world of 4K ultra HD display technologies, HEVC still has a long ways to go and its future still isn’t 100% clear. Basically, while existing users of HEVC report that the technology is running relatively smoothly and improving as it becomes more widespread, deployment as a whole is taking a bit longer than expected.

Of course, this could partly be due to the simple fact that HEVC is designed more than anything for 4K resolutions and 4K itself is still not thoroughly deployed in the display and media player world. That could include traditional pay-TV operators such as DirecTV and streaming services Amazon and Netflix, all three of which already offer some 4K video. Companies that plan to use the technology such as Facebook, Netflix and others might have to pay $100 million annually in licensing payments, says Dan Rayburn, an analyst with research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. “The licensing terms apply to all content services that get revenue from advertising, subscription and (pay-per-view) – which pretty much equals every content owner, (over-the-top video) provider, broadcaster, sports league, satellite broadcaster and cable provider you can think of,” he wrote in a scathing column on StreamingMedia.com, where he is executive vice president. “The best way to describe their terms would be unreasonable and greedy,” Rayburn wrote. “If more money is required to play back higher-quality video, content licensing costs will go up, and consumers are going to foot the bill for higher priced streaming services.” When asked about the plan HEVC Advance CEO Peter Moller responded via email that: “HEVC Advance believes that the prior model of putting the entire royalty obligation solely on device manufacturers is neither sustainable nor appropriate. It is HEVC Advance’s belief that each of those benefitting financially from, and using HEVC/H.265 technology in products and services from which they derive revenue (directly or indirectly) should pay a fair and reasonable royalty for their use of this break-through technology, including content providers.” H.265 is the successor to H.264, also known as Advanced Video Coding, widely used for HDTV and Blu-ray Discs. Or competing technologies could gain strength, which might foment consumer confusion, he said. “We could see a Wild West out there” of incompatible devices and services, Doherty said.

Independent TV and filmmakers could be hamstrung by payments and home movie makers might be liable, too, when they produce vacation videos and sharing them across the Net, he said. “This stymies creators large and small.” However, according to Guillaume Arthuis, CEO and founder of BBright, “Latency had been the biggest showstopper for live 4K content” and accordingly, Arthuis claims that his company BBright has reduced said latency to less than 5 seconds for live content in 4K by developing 12-bit HEVC encoding for file-based programming. Thus, what we’re now seeing become a possibility for satellite and even IP transmission is the potential for two different signals being shipped across a single satellite transponder or even a single internet connection, as compression reduces 4K video down to 18 or 20 Mbps, and for high quality 4K coverage of fast-action events like sportcasts thanks to its unique compression algorithm: As Thomas Burnichon, file transcoding product marketing manager at compression equipment company ATEME recently said, “We have improved compression efficiencies to reach 50% reduction that the standards expect.” The 50% reduction he was referring to was over the levels already attained by the previous H.264 standard used for Full HD content.

While enhanced compression is definitely the quicker and cheaper route to more widespread 4K video delivery, expanding bandwidth in internet and other types of OTT transmissions is also a major potential game changer. Nonetheless, the appeal of improved HD and ultra HD and the future job of HEVC or a process like the standard (like Google’s rival VP9 compression standard) in bringing these technologies to a wider market is interesting. It can also be used to deliver deeply augmented HD video, either with HDR built into it or in the form of HD delivered at much faster frame rates, which also have the capacity to create extraordinary picture quality, possibly of a kind even more notably superior looking to regular 4K content.

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